Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Let's put Dublin debacle right, says Ulster Rugby's Chris Henry

By Michael Sadlier

With his return to action from the hamstring injury which has kept him out since early November scheduled for this week, Chris Henry had other plans for last Saturday morning until his phone told him otherwise.

So, instead of chilling out ahead of catching the Leinster game on the television that evening, the 29-year-old got the summons and found himself with the team heading to Dublin along with the actual possibility of him playing now on the agenda.

"Yes, I got the phone call on Saturday morning," Henry explained.

"Sean (Doyle) had a bit of a tummy bug, but he was able to dig in and play through."

If that situation came as a bit of a relief to the hugely influential player and nine-times Ireland capped flanker, the way the game panned out and its aftermath, as Mark Anscombe made his feelings known in the RDS changing room, was anything but comforting for all those involved that evening, either directly or, as with Henry, on the periphery.

"I was in the changing room and Mark gave the boys a good rollocking which I suppose is what we needed and you need that sometimes," Henry recalls.

"We know the game didn't go our way and against a team like Leinster if you don't turn up from the beginning you aren't giving yourself a chance and Leinster were desperate to win that one.

"Mark said his piece but we have put it to bed, learned from it and now we've got ourselves back up," Henry says.

Of course, the other significant development from the RDS was the dislocated shoulder suffered by Sean O'Brien which could well keep him out of the Six Nations and open the door of opportunity for Henry to possibly add to his national cap collection.

"It's devastating news for Sean," Henry says with genuine concern for the Leinster and Lions star.

"For me personally the only thing I'm thinking about is getting back into the Ulster team and if that doesn't happen I won't be in the Six Nations squad at all," he reasons.

Henry can also further empathise with O'Brien's plight as the Ulsterman now returns from his own injury troubles which have kept off the park since he limped off for Ireland against Samoa, in early November, with a hamstring problem.

"It's a lonely place to be when you are injured," says Henry.

"There are other injured players you stay with, but you are very isolated and you do your own gym sessions, you aren't involved in as many meeting sessions and your whole focus is just to get back and ready.

"For me this is the longest I have been out for an injury, last year my knee surgery only kept me out for five weeks in total, this one has been seven weeks so it does feel like a very long time.

"You see the team doing well and winning big games and every opportunity you miss just makes you want it more," he adds before reflecting on his ill-fortune to not even make it through Ireland's first autumn international.

"These things happen in rugby and you get injuries, I did the hamstring against Samoa and I was really enjoying the game."

Now, though, he is good to go again and, with Ulster's last two rounds of season-defining European pool games on the horizon, there is no better time for one of the squad's recognised leaders to step back up to the plate.

"This is a chance for us to put last week right and it is easy for players that weren't playing to talk about it but the game got away from us and we didn't play any rugby and that is not what we are about.

"It's good we have another chance in an 'interpro' in front of a full house. All the 'intepros' are Irish trials.

"They (Munster) have done really well this year and they are sort of doing what we did last year where they are winning with the last play of the game and grinding out wins. Munster are starting to get dominance at the top of the (PRO12) table, but there is so much of the season left. We're building a team with experience and nobody is worried."

True, but tonight is one of those occasions when getting the right result is paramount, especially with the next two weekends, in Europe, needing Ulster to be at their very finest.

"The pressure is on," Henry admits before focusing on his own requirements to perform, "I have to go out and throw myself at the game and give it everything that I have got."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph